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Weaning your baby?

Food Milestones In Children
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Are you thinking about weaning your baby? Introducing your baby to solid foods can be a lot of fun for you both. NHS guidelines say that babies are usually ready to begin weaning at around six months old. Before then, only breast milk or infant formula is needed as their digestive systems are not yet mature.  If your child is able to sit holding her head up, has the co-ordination to pick up food and put it in her mouth and can swallow food rather than pushing it back out she is probably ready to start weaning.

weaning

Where to start?

Now you’ve established that it’s time for some new flavours and textures, where do you start?  In the early stages of weaning, the vast majority of your child’s nutrients still come from milk so it’s important to keep the same breast or bottle feeding routine.  A full baby will be unlikely to want to eat but on the other hand, you don’t want her to be hungry either or she’ll just get frustrated and upset so it’s a good idea to bring in solids between milk feeds.

For the first while, one solid meal a day is fine, working up to three meals a day by the time baby is a year old. Choose a time that suits when you won’t be rushed or interrupted.  It’s up to you how you introduce the food. Some parents like to blend or mash things and spoon-feed, while others prefer to offer finger foods for baby to pick up and put in her mouth.  Start with something bland like baby rice, mashed potato or toast soldiers.  Take time to let baby explore and play with the food.  Don’t worry is your baby doesn’t eat much, at this stage it’s more about getting them used to food than filling them up.weaning your baby

If at first you don’t succeed…

If your baby doesn’t seem interested then don’t force it, just try again another day.  Not all children will suddenly become interested in solids the minute they turn six months and there’s no harm in leaving it a little longer if your baby isn’t quite ready.  Prepare food in small batches to avoid too much waste – you can always heat some more up if she wants extra.

Choking

Choking is often a parent’s biggest concern when it comes to introducing solids. Don’t panic if your baby’s gagging reflex kicks in.  Babies are incredibly good at making sure food doesn’t block their airways and their reflex action allows them to spit out anything that doesn’t feel comfortable. If you’re spoon feeding then be sure to place the spoon at the front of the mouth rather than pushing it too far in.  This will allow your baby to get the food to the back of her mouth and throat at her own pace.  The golden rule of weaning is never to leave your child alone with food.

Make sure your baby is always sat upright when eating and obviously avoid known choking hazards such as nuts or whole grapes.  Also, don’t feed solid food too soon after using teething gel, which may numb the throat and interfere with swallowing.  If you use common sense and parental instinct then the risk of choking should be minimal.

Foods to avoid

As your baby becomes more confident and eats more offer slightly larger portions more often.  While it’s great to offer a varied diet, there are some foods to avoid while your baby is young.  If, after speaking to your health visitor, you decide to wean before six months there are some foods that should be avoided. These include dairy products, nuts, eggs, fish, soft berries, liver, soya products, citrus fruits and foods containing wheat or gluten.  After the age of six months the only foods that really need to be avoided are honey, salt, sugar, whole nuts (chopped nuts are fine) and fish with high mercury levels such as swordfish.  Try to introduce new foods one at a time so that you can keep an eye out for allergies.  It’s easier to work out what is causing a reaction if it’s the only new food a baby has tried recently.weaning your baby

Eat together

Eating together is a great routine to get into and introducing your baby to solids can be lots of fun. Roll up both your and your baby’s sleeves and try to ignore the food flying around until everyone is finished their meal.  Weaning is a messy business but it’s fun watching your child learn and enjoy new foods so try your best to enjoy it.

 

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About Maria Brett

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About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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